Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tapas Party at Home

Alexis hadn't held a dinner party in a very long time. It was overdue. This time, the theme was tapas, since Alexis received several Spanish cookbooks for christmas this year.

Carrot Puree with Caraway, Feta and Mint
This was an interesting dip adapted from a great book called Casa Moro.

-10 large carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1" long rounds
-1 large handful of mint
-1/2 cup crumbled feta
-1 tb caraway seed
-salt and pepper to taste
-a few tb olive oil

Coat the carrots with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast, covered, in a 400 oven for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Put the carrots, caraway seed, 1/2 the mint and a few tb olive oil in the food processor and puree. Spread the puree on a plate and sprinkle the the feta and the remaining mint.

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip
This was a bit pasty tasting, in Alexis' opinion.

-2 large eggplants
-2 red peppers
-4 cloves garlic
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-salt and pepper to taste

Roast the whole eggplants and red peppers on 400 until the skin has blackend and the peppers are deflated. Put them in a paper bag, or a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes. Remove the skins and seed the peppers. Add the peppers, eggplant flesh, garlic, lemon and seasonings into the food processor and pulse a few times.

Alexis' Hummous
This is an often requested and frequently praised dish that was originally adapted from a recipe of Alexis' mom's.

-1 can chick peas, drained
-1/4 cup tahini
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-1/2 cup olive oil
-6 cloves garlic
-salt to taste

Puree all ingredients in the food processor until very smooth.

For dipping in the above.

Mixed Nuts


Chorizo Tortilla Bites
In Spain, a "tortilla" is basically a quiche with potato. This one was cut into easy to eat bite-sized pieces

-8 eggs
-2 small potatos, boiled and diced
-6" length of dry chorizo, diced
-1 cup parmasean, grated
-2 tb water
-2 tomatos, seeded and diced
-1 bell pepper, diced
-1 onion, diced

Sautee the onions, tomatos and peppers on low for about 5 minutes, until very soft. Add the diced chorizo and boiled, diced potatos and sautee for another 5 minutes. Beat the eggs and water together and then add them to the pan. Stir all ingredients and then leave it alone for about 10 minutes, still on very low heat. When almost all the egg is cooked, except for the top, add the cheese and put under a hot broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbly. You can serve hot, room temperature or chilled.

Manchego Cheese with Quince Paste
This is a super simple appetizer that was a huge hit. Simply spread a tiny dollop of quince paste (available at any Mexican grocery store, or Whole Foods) on a slice of Manchego.

Hand-help pastries a kind of labor intensive, but they are always a crowd pleaser. Also, these are healthier, since they are baked instead of fried.

-1 lb store-bought puff pastry, rolled out VERY thin and cut into 4" diameter rounds
-6 oz cheese, grated
-1 tin anchovies, minced
-1/2 cup sun dried tomatos, minced
-1 cup kalamata olives, minced
-pepper to taste

Mix the anchovies, cheese, tomatos and olives to combine. Put a teaspoon-ful of this filling in the center of every round of dough. Wet the edge of half the pastry dough and fold over. Squeeze edged to secure. Brush with beaten egg and bake on 350 for about 10 minutes, until puffy and golden.

Roasted Asparagus with Proscuitto
Roast asparagus on 350 until tender, then wrap the speared in a super-thin slice of proscuitto.

Chorizo, Honeydew Melon and Chorizo Salad
This was a great salad. Sweet, salty and unexpected. This recipe was adapted from a book simply called Tapas.

-1 lb dry chorizo, thinly sliced
-1 honeydew, cut in bite sized pieces
-1 lb marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
-red wine vinagrette made of equal parts red wine vinager, mustard and olive oil

Thoroughly mix all ingredients.

Squid with Cherry Tomatos and Arugula
This was better in theory than practice, but I think the squid, served warm in the dressing, would have been nice on its own.

-1 lb cleaned squid, thinly sliced
-2 large handfuls fresh marjoram
-2 large handfuls fresh cilantro
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-1/2 cup olive oil
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 and 1/2 cups cherry tomatos, halved
-1/2 lb fresh arugula

Sautee the squid in a bit of olive oil until just opaque, as you don't want to overcook it. In a food processor, combine the olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper and lemon juice and pulse a few times. Move the squid to a glass bowl and pour the pureed dressing over the squid. Chill. In a large bowl mix the chilled squid, the arugula and the cherry tomatos and serve as a salad.

These meatballs were not salty enough, but they were tasty in the homemade tomato sauce that we forgot to take a picture of.

-2 lb beef
-1 cup grated parmasean
-3 tb garlic powder
-2 tb pepper
-2 ts salt
-5 low-carb crackers, put in the food processor to turn into breadcrumbs.

Mix all ingredients thoroughly, roll into 1" diameter balls and sautee in a few tb of veggie oil, shaking constantly to ensure they are browned all over. Drain onto paper towels and serve.

Tomato Sauce:
-3 cans diced tomatos
-1 bell pepper, chopped
-6 cloves garlic
-1/2 onion, chopped
-2 tb Italian seasoning
-1 large handful fresh basil
-salt and pepper to taste

Sautee onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil until beginning to carmelize. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and simmer for an hour. Puree with an immersion blender.

Crab Stuffed Cherry Tomatos
We don't have the recipe for these, as they were made by a friend. They were tasty though.

Garlic Shrimp
Garlic. Butter. Shrimp. That's all I need to say.

-1 lb shrimp, deveined and peeled (I cheat and buy them this way from Costco)
-1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and minced
-3 tb butter
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 handful of fresh cilantro, minced

Sautee the garlic in the butter until just beginning to brown. Add the shrimp and cook on medium high for a few minutes, until the shrimp have just turned pink. Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley. Serve immediately.

Almond Cake with Rum Syrup and Chocolate Ganache
A rich, decadent cake. Recipe adapted from The New Spanish Table.

-8 oz blanched almonds
-1/4 cup milk
-1 cup sugar
-4 eggs
-1/3 cup flour
-1/4 cup olive oil
-zest of 1 lemon
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a food processor, combine 1/2 the sugar and almonds, and pulse until almonds are a fine powder. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs for 1 minute. Then add the rest of the sugar and beat for 4 minutes. Alternate beating in the milk, flour and olive oil. Add the cinnamon and zest and stir to combine. Bake in a wax paper lined, buttered and floured springform pan at 350 for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack until cool to the touch.

-1/2 cup water
-3/4 cup dark rum
-1/2 cup sugar

Heat over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Prick the cake all over, then liberally brush the top of the cake with syrup. Cover in plastic wrap and let the syrup absorb for an hour.

-8 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate
-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Put cream and chocolate in a double boiler and stir until a creamy, unified whole. Let cool for 1 hour before spreading over the cake.

Apple Yogurt Cake
Dense and intensely appley, but not too sweet so you could even eat it for breakfast. Also adapted from The New Spanish Table.

-4 apples, peeled, cored and diced
-2 cups flour
-1 and 1/2 ts baking powder
-4 eggs
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup greek yogurt (our favorite is Fage brand)
-1/4 cup brandy
-1/2 cup olive oil

Beat the eggs and sugar for about in a minute in a stand mixer for a minute or so. Add the yogurt and brandy and mix until smooth. Alternately add the baking powder, flour and olive oil, mixing to combine after adding each in batches. Fold in the diced apples. Pour the batter into a buttered and floured springform pan and bake at 350 for about and hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Brunch from Canton Restaurant, San Francisco, CA

Since Alexis was busy cooking for a dinner party, Giao kindly went out to pick up some dim sum for brunch. Total was $25 for everything you see below.

Sui Mai and Har Gow
The sui mai were decent enough and the har gow were quite good, with lots of shrimp chunks and the odd addition of enoki mushrooms.

Chicken Feet
A solid version.

Tofu Skins with Pork
These were delicious. They were less greasy than this dish usually is and they were filled with pork instead of the usual vegetables.

Lots of them, and they were pretty tender.

BBQ Pork
A bit tougher than usual, but good flavor.

Food: 1
Decor: 0
Service: 1

Health Code Violations

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Dinner from Star of India, San Francisco, CA

Since our favorite Indian place didn't deliver this late, we ordered from a place recommended by a co-worker. We were pleasantly surprised.

Chicken Tikka Masala (good sauce, but the chicken was dry); Saag Paneer (very tasty and the paneer had a nice spring to it); Garlic Naan (no matter how hard we try we usually fail at eating low carb when we are presented with a steaming piece of naan).

Food: 1
Decor: NA (delivery)
Service: NA (delivery)

Health Code Violations

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Dinner from Mixt Greens, San Francisco, CA

Spinach Salad with Grilled Filet Mignon
Complete with sun dried tomato, avocado and cucumber and topped with a blue cheese dressing. Very tasty.

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Lunch at Taylor's Automatic Refresher, San Francisco, CA

A tasty, if expensive, burger in the Ferry Building.

Bacon Cheeseburger $9
So messy, you can put it down.

Beer Battered Onion Rings $4
Alexis splurged and ordered these in addition to the burger. These are may be the best onion rings ever--beer battered, super crunchy and yet the onion is very tender. But they are so greasy you can only eat them about once a year.

Chicken Strips $7
A bit too breaded. The honey mustard dipping sauce is way too sweet.

Blue Cheese Burger $8
A decent burger with a pungent kick.

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Breakfast at Home

Bacon and Spinach Scramble
We like to think that the bacon and spinach cancel eachother out health-wise.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dinner at Elephant and Castle, San Francisco, CA

After Giao moved offices, they went out for drinks and food. The drinks were ok, but food was mostly bad and so was the service.

Steak with Mushrooms $13
The worst steak ever. Just plain awful in every way.

Appetizer Platter $15
Some good, some bad, all bad for you.

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Dinner at Home

It's a good thing that Alexis has Giao around to cook for. Otherwise she'd eat like this every day... Cooking for one is no fun.

Tequila Lime Chicken Wings
From Costco, frozen, then baked on 400 for 20 minutes.

Kraft Mac n' Cheese
So bad it's good.

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Lunch from Fatt Dogg, San Francisco, CA

We had to use up some leftovers that we'd frozen, so we picked up some dogs from Fatt Dogg, and turned them into chili dogs with our own chili.

Frankfurter $3.50
Classic, with mustard, onions and sourkraut.

Kielbasa $3.50
We turned this plain old kielbasa into a hearty chili dog. Yum.

Leftover Creamed Spinach
This actually froze well, which is sort of amazing. And with added cheese it was very flavorful.

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Breakfast at Home

Bacon and Fried Egg.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dinner at Borobudur, San Francisco, CA

We took a friend to Borobudur, one of our favorite inexpensive places in the city. We had some new things and some old favorites and only the veggie curry disappointed. The service was a bit slow today, but there was only one waitress and she had to deal with the entire restaurant, so we didn't mind.

Steamed Chicken Dumplings with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce $5
The sui-mai-like dumplings were very dense, which was neither good nor bad. And the sauce was an interesting accompaniment.

Roti Prata $6
Winner of our Best Snack of 2006 Award, the Roti Prata never fails. So delicious we had to stop ourselves from ordering seconds.

Vegetable Curry $9
This was rather lackluster. We wouldn't order it again.

Spicy Chicken $10
This chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender and the sauce is succulent and very spicy.

Grilled Salmon $12
The flesh was tender and not overcooked and the outside was crusty with a nice charred flavor that complemented the sweet-hot sauce that the salmon was marinated in.

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Lunch from Osha Thai, San Francisco, CA

Catered in food that travels well and is consistently tasty.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
The chicken was more moist than usual, which was a nice surprise.

Garlic Shrimp
The only thing that would make these better is if they were already shelled, since a lot of the good garlic gets stuck on the shells when you remove them.

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Breakfast at Home

Low Carb Breakfast Burrito with Homemade Guacamole
We used the leftover taco meat to make the scramble that serves as the filling for the burrito. Fried cheese makes the tortilla edges stick together when you fill it too full.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dinner at Home

Spicy Shrimp with Baby Bok Choy and Shirataki Noodles
Tasty, spicy and very healthy.

-1 lb tiger prawns
-5 baby bok choy, halved
-2 packages shirataki noodles
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tb chili garlic sauce
-1 tb hoisin
-3 tb soy sauce
-1 tb rice vinager
-1 can chicken broth

Boil the noodles for 2 minutes, drain and set aside. Sautee the garlic in the a bit of olive oil until beginning to brown. Add the soy and chili garlic sauce and sautee another minute. Add everything except for the prawns and bok choy and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the bok choy and cover. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp are just cooked through.

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Snack at One Market, San Francisco, CA

We went for an after work drink at One Market, and ordered a snack. The service was very slow and the snack was expensive and not very good.

Calamari $10
The coating was too thick and did not well adhere to the actual calamari.

Health Code Violations

Food: 0
Decor: 1
Service: 0

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Lunch at Carl's Jr., San Francisco, CA

Buffalo Chicken Strips $4
This sounded good in theory, but was a diaster in reality. It was basically their normal crunchy chicken strips, but soaked in hot sauce to the point that they were totally soggy.

Six Dollar Low Carb Bacon Cheese Burger $5
Carl's Jr. really seems to be the only burger place that gets the "lettuce-in-lieu-of-bun" thing right. They wrap the burger in large, flat leaves of iceberg lettuce that don't fall apart and acutally work like a bun.

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